Shamelessly, I proclaim that I love paranormal romance (must be at least part of why I write it). 🙂
Actually, I love paranormals altogether – the creatures and whatever falls under that category (which can include time travel, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, etc). One reason is that paranormals very frequently offer up powerful, female characters who exceed gender expectations, are more than equal to their male counterparts, and take control of their lives.
Surely you can think of a few examples from books and television. To name a few (and, ahem, is my geek showing?):
- Buffy, and Firefly’s Zoe, from Joss Whedon
- Angua, the werewolf officer in Terry Pratchett’s Disc World Series
- Gwen Cooper, from Torchwood
- Kira Nerys, commander from Star Trek Deep Space Nine
- Elena, from Kelley Armstrong’s “Bitten” series
- Susannah, from “Anchored” by A.J. Larrieu
So, who did you come up with? Chances are, you came up with at least a few. And certainly, there are strong female characters all over – which is fantastic. But there seems to be a higher concentration in paranormals. These are females who defy the position and mold that sometimes their societies would squash them into. And this doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable (though some are, I suppose). Instead, their gender often plays a significant role in their strength.
How do paranormals help these characters be strong? I have a few theories.
First, I think that often the paranormal / supernatural / magical aspect of the character already sets them apart from other women. In other words, they already don’t belong, which may make it easier for them to avoid the typical female role their society / time / family demands. Think of Angua and Elena, who both have tremendous power because they’re werewolves – which already makes them different than any other woman they meet. Because they have difficulty therefore relating to some of these other females – and they’re not men – they have to define their own roles.
Second, because they’re women, their power and how they react is different than how a male would react. Men and women can and do think differently; they also act differently. This still sets the powerful female protagonist apart, even when they relate better to males than other females.
Third, sometimes they have the element of surprise in their favor because they’re the unlikely hero – because they’re the heroINE. They can equal the male hero in all ways – perhaps even exceed him – but somehow, they’re not usually what the villain expects. Guess he’d be better of more gender neutral. 😉
So, what do you think? Why do paranormals allow such strong feminine protagonists and characters?
For more great reading on this topic, check out: “What Makes a Heroine Kiss-Ass?” by AJ Larrieu over at Paranormal Unbound, the post which inspired this one. 🙂
Thanks for reading. Have a great week, and happy writing! 🙂